Final 2011 Recap: The Move/Wedding Whirlwind

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One of the reasons the end of the summer was so chaotic and stressful was because I was working (teaching and research-assisting PB) full-time at the same time I was planning a huge move. Friends, I am no fan of moving. From the time I was three-years-old until I was eighteen I lived in the same house, the house my parents still live in, longing to be one of those transient people who move whenever they get the urge. SoCal in the summer? That sounds nice. Key West in December? How about Paris in April? Yes, that's what I thought I wanted, not to be physically tethered to any one place, to be able to pick up and go whenever the mood struck me.

Then I went to college. And I moved at least twice a year for the next four years. In and out of dorms. In and out of summer apartments. I never moved home-home again, so you're probably thinking, how much can a college kid own?

A lot. Over the course of those four years, I acquired more and more books, a couch, a desk, an old-school desktop computer, and lots of clothes (which compared to now, seems like almost nothing), so I dreaded those days at the beginning and end of summer when I would have to pack my bags and brave the Alabama heat. And mostly I dreaded the cleaning that comes with moving, trying to move all of my possessions out of one place and into another, plus scrub the floors/showers/sinks (and later ovens/refrigerators/cabinets/countertops) and patch up all the picture holes it had seemed like a good idea to hammer in the wall when I first moved in.

So when I moved to Auburn and got to live in the same place for three years, and then moved a few streets away and lived in the same place for two years, you can imagine how happy I was to get to stay in one place for longer than a couple of semesters. So I acquired more things, of course--a dining room table and chairs, a full living room suite and big, flat screen TV, a study full of furniture, multiple bookcases, a queen-sized bed and dressers. On top of all the books! When I buy books (as opposed to renting them/checking them out of the library/downloading them on my Kindle), I somehow forget that I will one day have to move each and every one of them.

With just one week left before my move from Auburn to middle-of-nowhere, PA, not a single box had been packed, not a single piece of furniture sold. I was trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible, so I put most of the furniture on Craigslist, bought boxes from U-Haul, and, in the middle of grading final papers and exams, started loading up my books.

Twenty-five boxes worth.

The move was stressful. It took three days, a full day of which was just loading the truck with my things. I was still selling furniture on the day we pulled out, and anything unsold that I didn't want to move got left on the curb or by a dumpster. I gave up trying to clean/patch walls and just decided I'd rather my landlord take it out of my deposit. Best $200 I ever spent.

Two days later, I was an official resident of the smallest town I've ever seen. It started raining the day I got there, and the sun didn't come out for another three months. (Little rain, but all clouds, all the time.) Less than a week later, I started my new 9-5ish job--the first time I'd ever worked full-time outside of education. I knew no one other than my fiance and a family I used to babysit for, and I wasn't sure how to make friends in a place so small. (I'm still not sure.) I was an administrator now and felt estranged from my academic family. No one spoke my language.

In October, though, I got a few days reprieve to go to Alabama to see my family and friends, meet with my dissertation director, and attend the Auburn Writers Conference. And in many ways that short trip saved me. I felt happier, fuller, there than I had in quite some time. My days were full of lunches and dinners with people I love, long meetings with mentors who were full of encouragement, and, of course, writing workshops that forced me to examine my priorities and look at writing in new ways. I met many wonderful writers, and spent so much time with people who spoke my language, that I couldn't help but leave feeling blessed that I'd been able to escape PA for a few days to attend and see everyone. (And four straight days of sunshine and short-sleeves certainly helped.)

I flew back to PA determined to change the terrible habits I had fallen into--and for awhile I did. I worked diligently on my dissertation for a few weeks, then focused more on my novel for the first couple of weeks of NaNoWriMo. I was hitting goals I hadn't thought possible, and I was doing it fairly easily.

But then life caught up with me. I got sick, not once but twice in November, and I haven't been in perfect health ever since. I chaperoned a disastrous student trip to NYC that left me angry and emotionally and physically depleted. I spent five days at the in-laws, which I enjoyed as a form of escape from PA, but during which I got no work done. And then I had that wedding to plan.

I'd been good about wedding planning in the spring, but during the summer and early fall I did almost nothing. Fortunately, I had done most of my booking in the spring, and during our July planning session with our wedding coordinator we had knocked out a lot of the big decisions (menu, cake, floral), but there were still a lot of small details to attend to, and I was second guessing a lot of the plans we'd made in July. The last few weeks before we left for Florida were spent frantically emailing back and forth with my coordinator and florist and making a wedding newsletter, times guide, escort cards, table numbers, menus, a sign for the candy buffet, and any other craft projects I could think of.

A few of my projects--wedding newsletter, ceremony program, labels for candy favor bags, and times guide
Perhaps my favorite thing I made--wedding times guide for the welcome bags in the shape and design of a Disney park times guide
I didn't order my "Here Comes the Bride" banner until three weeks before the wedding (special thanks to Stephanie at Exclusive Elements for rushing it to me), we ordered wedding favors two weeks before (Murano glass bookmarks, wine stoppers, letter openers, and bottle openers from Favor Warehouse), and I didn't get the newsletter in the mail until a week and a half before. So needless to say, I was procrastinating and pretty stressed those last few weeks.

But it all came together so beautifully, and the weekend itself was almost completely stress-free.

The wedding was on Friday, December 16th. My last day of work was the 13th, and then T.J. and I flew down to Orlando on the 14th. Our plane landed around 2:15, and then we waited for his older sister and her two little boys to land so we could all take the Magical Express together to Coronado Springs. This was probably the most stressful part of the day because we didn't meet up with them until 3:00, and I had a 4:30 mani/pedi appointment at the CS spa. But we made it to the resort with some time to spare and then we were swept away to the VIP check-in area. We were given balloons, told what building our party was staying in, and then headed to the room to check it out.

Imagine our surprise when we opened the door and saw this:

Although I initially thought Disney had done this for us, it turns out my amazing little brother, who's a Disney cast member, got one of his friends to let him in our room so he could set this up for us.
The amazing gift basket Cody put together, knowing my loves for both hot tea and all-things Alice
And it wasn't just a gift basket and some decorations, but a SUITE, with two full baths, a HUGE living room, and separate bedroom. There were closets to spare and a kitchenette with sink and fridge, none of which we were expecting. We'd paid for me to be in a regular old room, and at first I thought this was just a nice wedding upgrade they give to all the brides, but my hair stylist told me no, she'd never seen a bride get a suite like that. So to whomever pulled the strings and gave us that upgrade, THANK YOU! That suite truly made our first couple of days magical (and gave us loads more room to put together welcome bags and get ready for the wedding).

I had to rush off to get my mani-pedi then, and the girls as the CS salon were very nice. I had my nails French-tipped, and though I loved my toes, I wasn't a hundred percent happy with the manicure. I have really good nails, so I didn't use acrylics, and I could still see part of the whites of my nails below where the whites of the polish ended. No one else could really see it from a distance, but it still bothered me for the next week before I took the polish off.

As soon as the manicurist was done, though, I had to rush back to my room (all the way on the other side of the complex) because we were all going to Downtown Disney for dinner and to meet up with my brother, Cody. (Yay!!!) I probably should have waited a little longer for my nails to dry, though, because within ten minutes one of T's nephews had stepped on my big toe and smudged all the white paint!

There was no time to get it fixed then, though, as we were off to Downtown Disney, where we ate at Earl of Sandwich (I had the amazing holiday sandwich with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry) and I got to see my little brother for the first time since August! I'd missed him terribly (we'd lived together the whole time we were at Auburn), so it was good to be reunited. Afterward, we wandered around and looked at shops for a while until the kids got too tired.

The next day was full of errands (finishing the welcome bags; delivering them to the Wilderness Lodge and Pop Century, where other guests were staying; going to UPS and Walgreens), including going to the salon to get my toenail fixed. Unfortunately, we got there and everyone was gone to lunch! I started to panic when an anonymous cast member (who swore me to secrecy) swooped in and saved the day! Toenail fixed, I rushed back to change for the rehearsal/dinner.

Rehearsal was at 3:30 at the Wedding Pavilion, but we were 10-15 minutes late (not everyone loathes being late as much as I do). This was probably the most stressful thing that happened the whole weekend (as our contract said if you were 15 minutes late they could cancel the rehearsal), but it ended up being okay. Our coordinator, the wonderful Michelle Wenzler-Dorr, was very kind about the whole thing, and since my brother and cousin Brittany (my MOH) were already there, she at least knew the rest of us were coming. The whole rehearsal probably took 15 minutes at most, and then I hopped in the car with Cody and Britt, and we headed to Pop Century to pick up my grandmother, sister, and friend Carrie.

After being in PA for so long, it was soooo great to see my friends and family again, to have most everyone I love gathered together in one place. This was especially so once we reached 'Ohana at the Polynesian, where we had the welcome dinner.

I think we'd been standing near that fire for too long.
There were around 40 of us there that night, some people I hadn't seen in many months and sometimes even in years. They gave us one loooong table so we were all together, and the kids had fun doing the coconut races and the hula, and everyone praised the food. T.J. and I were perhaps the least impressed people there (I've eaten there a couple of times before, so I know how good the experience can be, and somehow this time we always ended up getting food last and sometimes not at all.), but it was still  fun. Afterward a bunch of us went down to the beach to wait for the Magic Kingdom fireworks (they were at 8:00 that night), and for some people it was the first time they'd ever seen them. It's so nice to share things like that with people when they are seeing them for the first time.

When Brittany and I got back to the room (she stayed the night with me), I had another surprise. The bed was covered in rose petals and gift bags of lingerie! Because I didn't want a real lingerie party (the very idea makes me feel a little nauseous), T.J.'s mom, grandmother, and sisters had decided I should have my own private one, so they'd left the packages there as a surprise. It was so nice and definitely unexpected!

The next morning was the wedding, so I tried to get to bed at a decent hour. My alarm went off at 5:15, I think, and I took a shower, came out to check my phone to make sure the photographer hadn't called, and discovered my phone had completely crashed! Of all mornings! My photographer, Jason Angelini, was supposed to call to get my room number, and all of the other vendors only had my cell phone number, so if there were any problems, they wouldn't be able to reach me. Not sure of what to do, I had Brittany call and wake up T.J., and even though we hadn't planned on seeing each other before the wedding, he came up and we started looking up numbers and making the necessary calls.

Crisis averted, he went back down to his room just before the vendors started arriving. First, Sue and her assistant from Carolyn Allen's arrived to steam my dress. Since we had the suite, they could just set up shop in the extra bathroom (which was huge) and have the place to themselves. They did a great job (everyone thought the dress looked beautiful), but if I'm honest I don't know that it needed steaming. I'd been really careful with the dress ever since I'd picked it up from alterations, and considering what happened to it a couple of days later,* the professional steaming was probably unnecessary.

Next, Patricia LeJeune and her assistant from LeJeune Artistry showed up. They did my hair and make-up and Britt and T.J.'s grandmother's hair. They did an amazing job. My hair and make-up looked even better than I could have imagined, and everyone commented on how great my hair looked. Patricia's make-up job was flawless, and the fake eyelashes she gave me were those individual lash kind, not the whole lid, and they looked so natural. Before she left I bought a MAC compact from her and a tube of lipgloss to touch up my make-up throughout the day, and I have used both of those products almost every day since. They are subtle enough to look great anytime.

With just minutes before the limo was to pick me up, I squeezed into my dress, put on my heels, and threw the last few items I might need into my handbag. Cody, who became the official mover-of-all-things-I-don't-trust-the-porters-with, showed up to take the gift basket and a couple of other things that wouldn't fit in my suitcases, and that's when the trouble started. On the way out, he called up to let Britt and me know that the limo was in front of the lobby, so we headed that way, even though Michelle had said she would send the car to our building. Well, we got to the portico, and there was no limo. We thought maybe he'd driven around to our building and would come back, so we waited. And waited. Meanwhile, I'm standing outside a resort decked out in my wedding dress, and little girls are pointing and staring, and people are congratulating me left and right, and all I want is for the limo to appear! Finally, we get a call on Britt's cell (Michelle had been trying to call mine, but of course it wasn't working.), told the limo driver where we were, and he circled back around to the front of the main building. We clambered into the back and off we went!

We were supposed to have half an hour for pictures with Jason at the Grand Floridian, but thanks to the limo confusion, we only had about fifteen. Again, though, everyone I met was so nice and courteous. The limo driver (Frank?) was so good at putting me at ease (I was pretty nervous at that point), and Kelly, Michelle's assistant who met as at the GF, was so nice and calming as well. All of the bellhops, greeters, and random tourists we met congratulated me, told me how beautiful I looked, and little girls would walk up, tug on my skirt, and say, "I really love your dress." I always thought I would hate that about getting married at Disney (the whole princess treatment and spectacle of being the center of attention in front of so many people), but it was actually really nice. (Two days later, when T.J. and I had to get dressed back up in our wedding-wear for our Epcot photo shoot, the people at Wilderness Lodge hardly gave us a second glance, and I was thinking, "What is wrong with these people?" lol. GF spoiled me.)

Britt and I took pictures in a couple of different locations in the lobby at GF, and then we went back out to the limo and around to the Wedding Pavilion. Michelle and Rana, her other assistant, made sure everyone was inside before I got out of the car, and then they escorted me to the Bridal Suite. I was in there less than five minutes, no lie. Long enough to get a sip of water and for Ron Rosenzweig, our officiant, to come back and briefly review the ceremony with me. I didn't even have time to sit down, and then the processional began.

It was short -- just T.J., his dad (his best man), Britt, and our banner boy nephews, Elijah and Taylor -- and then it was time to make my entrance.

Our banner boys, Taylor and Elijah
So happy my little brother could walk me down the aisle! :-)
I'm pretty sure as soon as those doors opened and I heard my song ("The Ludlows" piano theme from Legends of the Fall), I flew down the aisle, because I don't really remember the walk at all. And then I was on stage, holding T.J.'s hands, and he was crying, and I was repeating vows after Ron and exchanging rings with T. It all went really fast, but with the exception of what Ron said (which I was told was quite lovely), I remember most of it pretty well. I remember getting teary as I walked to the altar for the sand ceremony and the organist started playing "Moon River," and how I got a bit too eager with the sand and spilled some on the table. How I wasn't really sure what to do when I turned and was introduced as a married woman for the first time, and how T.J. took my hand and led me out, and then it was all over.

"Hey, why do I still have so much sand in my jar?"

So relieved the ceremony is over!
I'm so happy we chose to have a morning wedding because it meant that, A) the nerves were over by 10:15, and B) we got to enjoy a full day of wedding activities instead of just a few hours. People say your wedding goes by so quick, and it does, but we got to celebrate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., so we got to relish the moment a little longer than most.

After the ceremony, we stuck around for pictures and sent most everyone on to Narcoossee's, at the GF, where we were having our cocktail hour and reception. We actually were able to finish up a little before the cocktail hour ended and join our guests for a drink, and we also got to see the reception decorations before they were destroyed. lol

Michelle showing us how they set up the candy buffet.
Centerpieces with my table numbers.
Menus I made.
The reception was very low-key. We had our first dance (to Ben Folds' "The Luckiest")...

...and then a beautiful tropical-themed lunch buffet. 

In case I forget what day I got married, my aunt helpfully added the date to the corner. :-P
Afterwards we mingled with guests, cut the cake, and then the caterers whisked the cake away to slice it up and serve it to everyone. Every layer of the cake had a different flavor (the bottom was almond cake with amaretto filling, the middle was yellow cake with tropical mousse filling, and the top (anniversary layer) was yellow cake with white chocolate orange mousse, all with buttercream icing), and they were all good. As in, the best wedding cake I remember having (and I'm not just saying that because it was mine), and so much better than it tasted when we did the cake tasting.

CAAAAAKKKE! Yum yum. And I sorta, kinda designed it myself. (Well, pieced the design together from some I found online.)
One of my favorite pics from the day (until we get the professional ones, of course).
I only wish my dress hadn't been feeling so tight or I would have eaten more! (And more of that pina colada bread and sazon-laced rice, which was my favorite thing from the menu tasting last July. Yum!)

After the reception ended, T.J. and I went around to different resorts with Jason and (hopefully) got lots of great pictures, and then we went back to the GF and checked into our two-bedroom, three-bath suite! It was by far the most amazing room(s) I've ever stayed in, and it was a shame we only had it for the night. (Disney comps you one night when you get married there and have a certain number of guests stay on property.) We didn't have much time to enjoy the room, though, because we had to quickly change and head to Epcot for our Dessert Party!

From 8:30-9:30 that night, we had the lower UK terrace reserved for our party, and our wedding guests gathered for one more bit of fun and magic. The desserts were delicious (including cheesecake, fruit tarts, chocolate eclairs, pistachio cannoli, and fruit salad)...

...and I got to spend some time with Jamie (of London-flat fame), who didn't make the wedding because she'd gotten into a car accident that morning. :-(

At 9:30, after all our socializing was over, we sat back and relaxed as Illuminations, Epcot's light and fireworks show, began. We had the most perfect seats in the house, and it was like the whole show was just for us. It really was the perfect way to end the day (especially considering how much I love fireworks).

The next couple of days were spent playing in the parks, and in general just having a great time with our friends and family. We had lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern with my family; had our picture taken in front of the castle with my grandmother, who had never been to Disney before; rode rides and watched parades with the nephews; and saw the joy on their faces when they saw Mickey, or Buzz, or some other character they idolize.

Elijah and me waiting for Fantasmic.
I've been to Disney enough times now that I didn't feel the need to rush from one side of the parks to the other, that I didn't get upset if lines were too long or if I didn't get to ride something I love to ride (like the Haunted Mansion or Toy Story Mania--don't laugh; that's my favorite ride at HS). Instead, I could just relax, soak it all in, enjoy the company, and find perfect contentment in ending the day with fireworks and a Dole Whip. It truly was the most perfect 4.5 days I could ask for, and I wouldn't change anything about it,** even if I could.

* T.J. and I scheduled with Disney to have wedding portraits done in Epcot's World Showcase two days after the wedding--which meant we had to get all dressed up again, have my hair and make-up done again, all that. The night of the wedding, I gave my brother my dress to take over to the Wilderness Lodge, where he was staying and where we were moving the night before Epcot pictures. When we got to WL that night (after midnight, I might add, because of fireworks), Cody and T.J. went to get my dress, and it turns out my brother had left it in the trunk of his car. With his suitcase on top of it! (Boys just don't think about these things.) I thought for sure it was ruined, especially when I pulled it out of the bag and it looked like a wad of crumpled tissue paper. I really wanted to cancel the whole photo shoot at the point, not least of all because I was exhausted and had to be up in four hours for Janet Melnick to do my hair and make-up. We put the dress in the bathroom, though, with the hot water on high, and steamed it for a couple of hours. The next morning, it was almost as good as new! That's why I say if my dress can survive that and still look decent, it certainly didn't need professional steaming the morning of the wedding. Oh, and we were super happy we kept the Epcot appointment. Our Disney photographer, Stephanie, was fantastic to work with, we had so much fun playing in the different countries before the park opened (Canada, UK, France, Morocco, and Italy), and if the pics look anything like the ones she showed us on her camera, they will be gorgeous. (To see the kind of shoot we had, click here.)

** Even the phone dying ended up not being such a big deal. I had to go almost a whole week without a phone, but that was actually kind of liberating, and I was rewarded by getting to ditch my glitchy Samsung Fascinate and get a new iPhone 4s. :-) So it all worked out in the end.


Moka B. January 11, 2012 at 8:57 PM  

Still slightly depressed I couldn't make it, but I'm so glad you blogged in such detail about everything! You deserve that near-perfect weekend and all the love and awesomeness that you experienced! Congrats again, dear friend!

Cody Austin Marschalk January 11, 2012 at 11:22 PM  

It really was the most perfect wedding and weekend anyone could ask for. That pic of you and T.J. behind the cake is really good! Can't wait to see your Epcot shots. And btw, I did not leave my suitcase on your dress in the trunk...sheesh. It was a bag of wedding candy and goodies from the reception ;)

Chuck December 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM  

Thats awesome! My fiance and I are also getting Married in Disney. How did you make the times guide and newsletter if you don't mind me asking?

Lacy Marschalk December 10, 2012 at 8:51 AM  

Hi, Chuck! Disney weddings are so easy and magical! You are going to be so happy you decided to get married there.

I made them in Microsoft Publisher. The newsletter was made from a template, and I made the times guide from scratch. I could email you the documents if you want, and you could edit and revise to your liking. Just email me at if you're interested.

Michelle June 11, 2013 at 8:37 AM  

Hi! I also love your times guide. I'm doing a big 40th Bday party and would love to use your template. Do you mind emailing me a copy as well? My email is

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